If you plan to simply let your property as a ‘shell’, there is no need to set yourself up as a registered business – although if you let the property out furnished, then it may be wise to register as a ‘professional landlord’, so that you can take advantage of available tax breaks (such as access to the French health system). However if you register as a business and you rent out your property, you must remember that you are liable for French income tax on your rental earnings - although the double taxation relief between the UK and France means you will not have to pay tax twice.
It is also worth remembering that tenants have strong security of tenure in France, so it is important to conduct a thorough and diligent check on whoever you decide to have renting your property. Also, as a landlord you will need to provide tenants with certain survey reports, just as if they were buying the property.
It is usual to ask for one month’s rental deposit at the start of the tenancy, or for a short-term let at least 10% deposit of the total rental value. Getting the agreement signed by a notaire is a good idea, as this will underscore the terms of the tenancy agreement and also give you stronger rights if the rent is not paid.
When you begin searching for a tenant, your process will very much depend on the type of property that you have available and its location. For example, we would recommend advertising a large flat in a city nationally, whereas a flat or house in a rural community, village or hamlet may only need advertising very locally. You could, of course, start in the UK – and advertise through an English rental website, many of which cater for short term holiday lets. When you are over visiting your property, it can be a good idea to make full use of local shops, and even ask at the Mairie if you can put up a little advert. There are also plenty of free newspapers around these days and in some regions you may even find an English language magazine!
A good tip is to continue advertising even after you have found your first tenant. This will help you stay out in public, and allow you to keep an eye on general demand for short term lets in your area.
Obviously you could also engage in the services of a local estate agent and management company to advertise for you, and deal with the general letting and maintenance of the property - for a fee which is normally negotiable. This will mean signing a “mandate”, an agreement between yourself and the agent to market your property for rental. Don’t ever be persuaded to have your estate agent as a sole agent however; most French agents will not expect to be granted exclusivity!
In general, a decent flat or house in a good area with amenities will be easy to rent out, particularly in the summer months. Facilities such as garden, extra land and/or a pool, and being close to either the coast or mountains will always ensure that you can command a decent rental. Don’t forget insurance! We recommend using an established UK insurer that specialises in cover for people who let overseas properties. Click here to find out more.
Holiday lets can often be a very good way to generate income from your French property whilst leaving you time to enjoy it yourself when you have no tenants!